Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's marriage has been reinvigorated by couples' counseling. Although things are on the mend now, there was trouble in paradise less than a year after they tied the knot. Not only did Brad see ex Jennifer Aniston alone, but he also didn't accompany Angelina to the Critics' Choice Awards in January. After months of fighting, they decided to seek out the help of a therapist. Now they plan to always keep counseling in their lives, because they say it has transformed their marriage and helped them fall in love with each other again. And they are not alone. Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden have enlisted some outside support after just five months of marriage, as they work to put a strong foundation underneath them. This proves that it is never too early to get help.
The secret to having a lasting relationship is to not let the anger and resentment build up to the point where it drives you apart. A lot of people don't realize that a lasting union is full of angry and questioning feelings which go hand in hand with the adoring ones, not unlike a seesaw. I call them "love you, mean it" and "hate you, mean it" moments, which I talk about in my book What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. It is natural to shift in and out of these emotions. The challenge is to make sure the positive ones always balance the negative ones so that they don't consume you. The goal is always to continue to or to get back to loving and feeling connected to your partner. What happens, though, when that becomes more and more difficult to do, and you aren't able to get past the anger anymore? How do you know when it is time to bring in a trained professional to help you sort out the issues?
Even in today's sophisticated age, people are often reluctant to air their marital problems with an outsider, especially when it comes to sexual troubles. There are many reasons for this which include feeling embarrassed, the fear that you think something is really wrong with you or your partner, the concern that you will be told there is something wrong with your relationship that is unfixable, or maybe you do want to go but your partner doesn't. There are also those people who think that because the idea of divorce hasn't come up things can't be that bad, so you don't really need help.
It is terrific that Brad and Angelina realize and appreciate that they have a big relationship, sometimes even bigger than the two of them, and they were able to seek assistance from a counselor who can help them deal with their issues. The same is true for Cameron and Benji. You certainly don't have to be a celebrity to have issues that can weigh down your relationship and start to interfere with the love you share, but they are good examples to follow. If you are resisting therapy, try to shift your way of thinking. Know that there isn't anything wrong with you or your partner, but there is something in your connection that warrants finding help and relief. Allow your fears to propel you forward instead of holding you back. Your seeking help is not a sign of weakness in any way, but rather a measure of strength, courage, and commitment to your relationship. It proves that you care enough to not give up and find what it takes to make things better.
Keep in mind that making a relationship work is work. If you don't do that work now, you will have to do it later either by taking your marriage apart or learning to live with unhappiness. Why not spend that energy working to find a way to stay together and live happily? A therapist can help a couple learn to communicate and identify the problem areas in their relationship, so that they can learn how to compromise and put the pieces back together. Brad and Angelina seem to be doing just that. They appear strong and are a positive testimony to the value of knowing when to get help and getting it. Hopefully the same will be true for Cameron and Benji.
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